When do we associate with others as an end in itself?

Commentary by José Parés Pérez, Concepción, Chile.

Life is relationships. It is not possible to achieve life without the interdependence that exists by its very nature among living beings. In reproduction, in protection and in survival the need we have for each other clearly shows. I am, because others have been. Life is only guaranteed through relationships. Without them life will disappear.

In life as we live it, two kinds of relationship are created: transactional relationships and transformational relationships.

The difference between the two is born of the fact that the former has an objective that the latter does not have. In the transactional relationship the objective is to obtain something from the other person that I do not have, in return for something that I do have. In the latter case the relationship does not have an objective in itself; it is part of nature: one of the manifestations of a single Universe. Life does not acknowledge hierarchies or distinctions. Life is as one.

We should not believe, as we do, that transactional relationships create real differences between human beings. There is no way of putting a price on life. Life has an infinite value whosoever it is. Walls and clothing only reflect our fears and contribute nothing to differentiating us.

If we observed life in depth, something that we never really do despite the fact that it is constantly available we would be able to savour its beauty and wonder. Everything in life is about giving without asking for anything in return. A wild bird never demands that a tree should acknowledge that it brought the seed that allowed the tree to grow. In return it will always have its branches as a place where it can rest. We cannot even imagine the manifestations of love that can be achieved between human beings when their relationships are not based on objectives.

We are because we are. Nothing separates us except fear.